Researchers from the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety (CFS) have discovered a gene that causes antimicrobial resistance to one of the world's most import antibiotics.
CFS researchers found the presence of the MCR-9 gene in the sewage water in a metro area in Georgia. The gene is resistant to colistin, also known as polymyxin E, an antibiotic used as a last-resort treatment for infections.
Colistin is prohibited in the U.S. for livestock, a move by regulators to help slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance to the antibiotic. But the finding suggests the spread could already be widespread than initially thought.
"MCR can be spread through global travel and the import of foods from other countries. Results of the CFS study prove that the U.S. is no less susceptible to the threat than other nations around the world," the researchers said.
"If we don't tackle it right now, we are jeopardizing human and animal medicine as we know it and that can have huge repercussions on health and the economy.
"It's a dangerous problem that requires attention from multiple sectors for us to be able to tackle it properly," they said.
The World Health Organization has warned that antimicrobial resistance is "one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity."
A silent spread of colistin-resistant bacteria is happening in Georgia sewers. If people or animals contract it, there are potentially no medications that can treat their infection, leading to possible death.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any better on the global health landscape, along comes the drug-resistant MCR-9 gene.